Our Two Day Getaway to Port Alfred

-Postcard_of_Die_Boschoek_-20000000009471107-500x375It’s Thursday already and I’m only getting to posting this now. The husband and I decided to spend a night in Port Alfred at The Royal St. Andrews Hotel last weekend. I’m trying to get better at just living life and relaxing a little bit on that whole being permanently stressed about life thing. I’ve slowly been putting together a small fund that is exclusively for “life”. Not real life. Life life. The life part that makes you Keep Passing the Open Windows! Funny how having it has made it easier to be strict on the budget where we need to be strict. I’ve even been spending WAY LESS on books lately, which is beyond miraculous. Granted there are still a few places where I need to learn to curb my spending a little better, but at least I’m getting better at trying.

imageSo! Early Saturday morning (almost on time – yay for saved marriages!) we set off and ambled down The Sunshine Coast, stopping at farm stalls, spending too much money on unnecessary things like koeksisters and cheese. Oops! I’m going to have to do a little work on not doing silly things like that too much if we want to do this kind of thing more often! But, we live and learn, right? Come to think of it though… Koeksisters and cheese actually seem quite necessary…

We discovered the sweetest gems between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred and it was really nice to just go with the flow. We stopped to stroll through a graveyard (because that’s what normal folks do on adventures, right?) and we drove through those sleepy seaside towns that seem almost dormant during the winter months. We gave some hitchhikers a lift because we really should just do that more often considering we have the space! And yeah yeah before you tell me all about this one movie you watched about hitchhikers this one time, I’ve probably seen it. Plus, aside from the usual CSIs and such, I’ve pretty much watched all the crime shows out there. And read all the books. I’m still picking up the damn hitchhiker when I feel like it though.

imageMy favourite part was when we randomly decided to detour into Alexandria a bit and we came upon Maureen Quin’s Scupture Garden. What a beautiful oasis in the middle of nowhere. And how lovely to be able to witness how someone has so gracefully just dedicated their whole life to their art form. Absolutely gorgeous! Did I mention the word inspiring yet? I should have… *sigh*

-Postcard_of_The_Royal_St_-20000000009471114-500x375Our hotel was lovely, though admittedly we could only afford it because they’re currently running a special. You should check that out. It comes with breakfast. Really really good breakfast. And like all the amenities work and you don’t ever look around and think, “wow I wish I was just a little richer so I could do this travel thing on a tiny bit less of a budget” so that’s a bonus when you’re like us.

I have to admit that even though it was supposed to be a weekend in Port Alfred we didn’t spend any time there! We took all day to get there, first of all. And then napped when we arrived because what else are you supposed to do on a Saturday afternoon? But then on Sunday we kind of drove around a bit and the whole place seemed a bit…well…closed. So we moved on to Bathurst where we had some tea and cake and a mosey through their little Sunday market and then we went home.

It was fun but I think we need to do a do-over sometime soon and take the kids with us!

 

Naps & Books

After a busy day of checking out what the little towns around the Port Alfred area have to offer the ambling traveller,  Im happy to be snuggled up in my hotel bed, fresh from a nap (husband says you cant have naps after 5pm – pffft!) and ready to get stuck into some coffee and rusks and this little book I brought with me. It was kind of tough to decide what to pack to read for such a short weekend trip, but I reckon I made a good choice. A collection of short stories means that I get to do some decent reading without having to worry that my adventure will steal me from my book or that my book will steal my adventure.

Maintaining real life and book life is a balancing act sometimes,  my friends. Now if I can just get my husband to stop trying to discuss the rugby game with me then my content will be complete…

As for the travelling stuff? Ill tell you about that later!

New Instagramming Material

imageI was glancing through my Instagram this morning and holy monkeys on tree swings there are way too many selfies with cats on there at the moment. So… I’m definitely looking forward to a bit of A Short Road Trip with the husband tomorrow because at least I’ll have some new things to take pictures of. Knowing that I tend to enter all the accommodation competitions that I find, a friend pointed out that The Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred is having just such a competition so I entered it. Then I thought, oh buggerit I don’t have time to win competitions I need to go somewhere NOW so now we’re going there now. If we win then double yay because we’re going on our Anniversary Road Trip in August so we could use it then.

Anyway: the point is that I’m eager to get a little exploring done between here and Port Alfred over the next two days. I’ve been through Port Alfred on the odd occasion but I’ve never really meandered through it much at all. And to be perfectly honest: we need it. Gosh this real life this is an ass boil sometimes and this last week needs to be lanced!

Now if I can just get this slight little flu tickle to GO AWAY! (read that in Moaning Myrtle’s voice please) then I can move on and get packing and be ready to leave here as early as possible in the morning…

Wanderlusting

DSCN8551I’m currently on a bit of a road trip through the Western Cape with my husband. We like to do this for ourselves from time to time. At the moment we’re a bit broke, but it was our anniversary on the third and I guess sometimes love needs to trump questionable bank accounts. As much as I adore being in my home (anyone who knows me well knows that I tend towards being a bit of a hermit sometimes) I do admit that combatting cabin fever becomes a delicate balancing act, which is best performed by leaving our fair city behind. These little road trips have healing powers. They have restorative powers. And to be a little too honest: they have marriage saving powers!

So my husband and I are road tripping, and we’ve been to an array of strange places over the last week. Letting my husband take control of the planning has lead to far stranger experiences than if I had been in charge. His relaxed approach to life is certainly more conducive to adventure than my uptight and systematic need for control is. Again, you see: balance. Last week we stayed in a tepee. This is a decidedly un-South African way to spend the night, of course, but it was a new experience nonetheless, and new experiences are the point. We even got to have the strange experience of stumbling upon a (possibly) biker bar in the middle of Prince Alfred’s Pass where the owner had a stuffed springbuck’s hind quarters set up on the wall (instead of a traditional hunting trophy head) and if that wasn’t bizarre enough, he had, for reason’s known only to the infinite cosmos, rigged it up so that whisky could be tapped from the poor creature’s lady bits. I learned of myself that evening that I am quite the prude and that there are some authentic experiences that I am happy to skip out on. The indignity of it all still haunts me, days later.

After the night of strange taxidermy and authentic American tenting, we spent the night on a lovely farm that is completely off the grid. This of course excited Ty no end because he just wants to live off the grid. Having a proper off-the-grid experience was a nice reminder of the possibility of it all.

We’ve actually been having a lovely time. We’ve driven through farm after farm. We’ve admired exquisite protea bushes and gasped at the beauty of the wine lands and marvelled at the brownness of the Cederburg area. I’ve taken a thousand photographs of clouds. And all the while I have been reminding myself: we are nothing without our farmers. These folks who make this all happen are our unsung heroes. We should thank them more often. I can barely grow tomatoes in my veggie garden, never mind feed a whole country.

And yet…there is something that is missing…

Please don’t get me wrong. I love our country. Our country is beautiful and magnificent and we probably have the best weather in the whole world. We have this beautiful diversity, which makes me smile. We have great food. We have our odd colloquialisms and our specific brand of humour. I love all of those things. And I miss them when I go away.

But when you’re road tripping in your own country you never really properly feel like you have left home. You never experience that exquisite spark of fear that is brought about by being faced with the unknown. You never get to stand still for a moment, look around you and tell yourself, “I have absolutely no idea where I am”. I must admit, I am addicted to that feeling.

I tried to tell myself the other day that I need to stop having lofty and impossible dreams about trips overseas that I cannot afford. I should just be quietly content to explore my own country. Exploring my own country is doable. But my other self only started to laugh at me. Because as much as I do love exploring the wonders of right here, my other self knows that there is something far more empowering about that feeling of not knowing where you are. Of feeling un-findable. Of being no one in the midst of everyone.

If you’ve ever read The Alchemist you might have noticed that there is a quote by Madonna on the back. It says “The Alchemist is a book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our own doorstep.” To me this is a gross misinterpretation of the book. To me, The Alchemist is about how you should seek out adventure despite the fact that everything you need might be on your doorstep.

My own interpretation of the story sticks with me and causes my mind to scheme constantly. It is why, even though I am not wealthy, I have begun to stick small amounts of money away in a “flight fund”. And it is why I am constantly on websites like webjet checking out what it costs to fly where. Because it is important to know these things. It is important to know that if you don’t get yourself the latest iPhone, you could actually afford to purchase a ticket to Vietnam. It is important to know that if you save x amount of money for y amount of months that you could give yourself a trip to Prague.

Because you know what? As healing and restorative and marriage-saving as a road trip through the country might be, a plane ticket to anywhere holds within it a thousand times more power. And yes, everything I need might be on my doorstep, but the world outside of my doorstep is calling me. And I will keep checking on those ticket prices. I will keep working out how much to save. And soon I’ll be on a plane again.

Train Trippin’

Once upon a time I watched a Bruce Springsteen DVD and thought to myself “I hope that one day I can see ol’ Bruce live”. A weird thought perhaps for someone barely familiar with the man’s music, but then again, it is quite hard to deny the man’s charismatic presence. With only the idea that I would like to see him live one day, I was very quick to decide on a trip to Joburg to see the man perform when it was announced that he would be gracing our primitive shores. And so it was that on Friday I found myself on a train headed for a mere 24-hour stay in Johannesburg. Of course trains are not really part of my every day life. But then again, neither are planes or busses. No…. We drive everywhere. Usually. Usually when petrol doesn’t cost three arms and several legs. Driving is fast becoming a luxury to be set aside in favour of essentials like food and sanity.

DSCN0093Anyway, I’m quite pleased to be able to announce from experience that train rides in South Africa do not suck too much. Hubby and I found ourselves quite comfortable in our small compartment made for two (though I must admit – two average sized people would be comfortable – two large people maybe not so much) and it was quite nice to just veg out a bit and read without being distracted by life. The train was clean. The staff on board were all pleasant. The bathroom didn’t make me want to refrain from liquids.

Unfortunately though…. both our trains were hopelessly late in getting to our destinations. This I find particularly sad because it seems that it is a typical issue and not one that we were unfortunate to encounter due to shoddy timing. It is something that seems to happen  a lot and I must admit that not being able to rely on this kind of thing bugs me. The signalling systems at the stations pack up and once that happens, you’ve got an issue where several trains need to be guided to their destinations by a single “pilot”. This takes forever. Our train was so late in getting to Park Station in Johannesburg that we eventually had our friend pick us up in Germiston. Then on the way home we got stuck in Germiston again. We ended up getting home four hours later than expected.

Was it worth it? Yeah I guess it was. A little quality down time with the hubby was nice. The train food was a bit “meh” but it could have been worse. Travelling for 48 hours in order to watch a concert is possibly a little silly though. Perhaps the trip might feel more worth it if a little more than 24 hours passes in between…